Celebrate The Past And The Future

I’ve previously mentioned that this decade would be one of fortieth space anniversaries. Next Friday, April 12, is both a forty-first, and a twenty-first anniversary of notable space events.

On that date in 1961, Yuri Gagarin, a Russian, became the first man to go into space, and into orbit.

It was the height of the Cold War, and the Soviets had already beaten us to launching the first satellite. The fact that they also beat us to putting a man into orbit (a feat we wouldn’t match until John Glenn’s flight the following February), combined with dismayingly regular failures of our rockets, simply added to our national frustration.

Later that same month was the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, compounding our sense of technological inferiority with a lack of military and political will as well. In an effort to both arrest this growing sense of technological impotence, and to distract from the Cuban fiasco, Kennedy made a speech to Congress on May 25th:

I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space, and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

This speech, resulting at least partly from Gagarin’s flight, set us firmly on the road to the Moon, launching the Apollo program and also setting into place the institutional structure of NASA and Space As A Government Program that, ironically, now holds us back.

But Yuri couldn’t have foreseen any of this–he was just a lucky fighter jockey who got to be the first person to see the earth from above, with no borders or countries–just oceans and continents and islands, with a sunset and sunrise every hour and a half. But he was enchanted:

Circling the Earth in the orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty–not destroy it!

He only flew the one time, and seven years later, in March 1968, his luck ran out, as he fatally crashed his Mig-15.

But last year, on the fortieth anniversary, a young student at the California Institute of Technology named Loretta Hidalgo decided to celebrate his achievement. With her friend George Whiteside and others, she organized a world-wide party, calling it Yuri’s night. Individual parties were held in many of the planet’s major cities, and linked through video and the internet. Young people (and some not-so-young people) danced the night away all over the globe, in celebration of the first human venturing off the planet.

And as I mentioned, it was another anniversary as well–twenty years to the day after Gagarin’s flight, in 1981, the first Space Shuttle was launched. It wasn’t planned to coincide with the Gagarin anniversary–it was supposed to launch on April 10th, but a computer glitch delayed it two days.

Anyway, last year’s first event was a spectacular success, and next Friday, they’re going to do it again. So go to the web site, find the nearest party, put on your dancing shoes and help celebrate the first man and first reusable spacecraft to enter space.

Just A Coincidence, I’m Sure

This is pretty hilarious. First, it was discovered that a Microsoft-sponsored anti-Unix campaign web site was being hosted on an open-source BSD/Apache server.

Then, in an apparent attempt to alleviate the embarassment, the site sponsors attempted to move it to a Microsoft Internet Information Exchange server on Windows 2000. Now the site has mysteriously gone off line.

I have no idea what to make of this, but it’s not great advertising for Redmond.

Just A Coincidence, I’m Sure

This is pretty hilarious. First, it was discovered that a Microsoft-sponsored anti-Unix campaign web site was being hosted on an open-source BSD/Apache server.

Then, in an apparent attempt to alleviate the embarassment, the site sponsors attempted to move it to a Microsoft Internet Information Exchange server on Windows 2000. Now the site has mysteriously gone off line.

I have no idea what to make of this, but it’s not great advertising for Redmond.

Just A Coincidence, I’m Sure

This is pretty hilarious. First, it was discovered that a Microsoft-sponsored anti-Unix campaign web site was being hosted on an open-source BSD/Apache server.

Then, in an apparent attempt to alleviate the embarassment, the site sponsors attempted to move it to a Microsoft Internet Information Exchange server on Windows 2000. Now the site has mysteriously gone off line.

I have no idea what to make of this, but it’s not great advertising for Redmond.

The Big Ego

Lee Bockhorn explains why Bill Clinton remains in the news, and on the cover of Newsweek. (Hint–it isn’t because the so-called “Clinton-haters” can’t let go…).

I myself was appalled by the Newsweek piece.

First, because they let Jonathan Alter do it. How did the editors think that he could even remove his proboscis from Bill’s derriere long enough to write a credible piece?

And second, at his continuing self absorption (though I guess at this late date, I’d be stupid to be surprised). It’s always about him.

He doesn’t regret pardoning Marc Rich because it was wrong. He regrets it because it damaged his “reputation.” Methinks he misspelled “notoriety.” As usual, his only real regret is that he got caught, and actually suffered some consequences for it. Perhaps if this had happened earlier (like when he raped a woman in Arkansas as Attorney General) the country would have been spared a great deal of trauma.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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